Where are the Lintoch Steps?

In the autumn of 1687, James Renwick preached at another ‘lost’ location known as ‘Lintoch-steps’. At the time, Renwick had just recovered from a period of illness and started to preach against the moderate presbyterian ministry’s acceptance of toleration, an innovation in Scotland’s religious settlement which James VII & II had enforced without parliamentary consent.

James VII’s edicts of toleration for Scotland were a bold innovation within the British context and were intended to be a model for all three British kingdoms. The King’s main aim in introducing toleration was to aid his Catholic coreligionists, rather than liberate moderate presbyterians from persecution. (Harris, Revolution, 166-71.)

In return for granting liberty of worship to Scotland’s moderate presbyterians, Quakers and Catholics, it was required that they accept or tacitly acknowledge the King’s absolute authority. In other words, in return for the “state” tolerating other denominations out with the established episcopal-controlled Kirk and the lifting of the penal laws against them, the Scottish kingdom became, in practice, an absolute monarchy. Only the militants of the United Societies under Renwick, who due to their adherence to the Covenants were opposed to both absolutism and toleration, were specifically excluded from Toleration, as one of the edicts other aims was to isolate from their moderate presbyterian brethren and destroy them.

Renwick’s sermon at Lintoch-steps marked a turning point in the Societies’ relations with the moderate presbyterian faction. Up until the summer of 1687, both the moderate presbyterian leadership and the United Societies had resisted the changes to church and state brought in by the Restoration regime and been hostile to James’s toleration scheme. However, after the disastrous Argyll Rising of 1685 against James, much of the surviving moderate presbyterian leadership had sought rapprochement with the Crown. In July 1687, the moderate presbyterian ministry took the final step in their faction’s “peace process” with their Catholic king and accepted toleration. In return for their de facto acceptance of the monarch’s absolute authority, they were permitted to establish meeting houses and preach, provided nothing seditious was said. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, 171-5.)

The preaching at ‘Lintoch-steps’ was Renwick’s first public response to the presbyterian ministers’ actions.

His sermon was on Canticles 4.16: ‘Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits’.

In the sermon he attacked the enactment of James VII’s edicts of toleration as the ‘cope stone on all our other steps of defection’ which had caused the Lord to hide himself from Scotland, and condemned outright the moderate ministry’s acceptance of this ‘sinful liberty … as a mercy, or our duty’, as another cause of the Lord’s wrath.

A copy of the sermon, September 1687. Some notes or heads of a preface and sermon (Canticles chapter 4, last verse) at Lintoch – steps, by that great man of God, and now glorified martyr Mr James Renwick, confirms the date, location name and subject matter of the sermon. The full text of Renwick’s lecture and sermon can also be found in A Choice Collection of Very Valuable Prefaces, Lectures and Sermons: Preached Upon the Mountains and Muirs of Scotland, in the Hottest Time of the Late Persecution, William Wilson ed. (Glasgow, 1776), 509-21, although it does not state where it was preached.

Where was ‘Lintoch-steps’? We know what was said and when it was said, but not where it was said. Does that matter? In this case, it may do.

The placename ‘Lintoch-steps’ is not on modern OS maps. This suggests that ‘Lintoch-steps’ is either a variation on a existing placename or has disappeared from the map, or is possibly a local placename or landscape feature that was not recorded by earlier map makers. There are two good candidates.

1. Lintoch in Eastwood parish, Renfrewshire.

The placename ‘Lintoch’ appears in a letter from Robert Wodrow to Lord Pollok discussing the appointment of elders to Eastwood parish in Renfrewshire. In the letter, Wodrow names a John Jamison in ‘Lintoch’ and others as candidates for elderships and seeks Lord Pollok’s views on them:

‘They desired me to acquaint you with the names of the rest that we may have your thoughts anent them before we goe any further, and if your lordship knou any others that we have missed I hope you will acquaint me. They are John Jamison in Lintoch, Rob Rouan in Byers, John Steuart, Heugh Biggart. In Egling-touns land we are much straitned and can find none…’. (Robert Wodrow, Early Letters of Robert Wodrow, 1698-1709, ed. L. W. Sharp (Scottish History Society, 1937), 273.)

From Wodrow’s letter, it is clear that Lintoch lay within Eastwood parish and that it was sited on the Pollok estate.

The ‘steps’ part of the placename also suggests that at ‘Lintoch’ there was a set of stepping stones across a burn or river, as other similar placenames in Scotland occur at riverside sites.


‘Lintoch’ appears in Joan Blaeu’s Atlas (1654) on the Renfrewshire map as ‘Linthauck’, near the confluence of the White Cart Water and the Levern Water. It lies next to ‘Byrs’ (Byres on later maps) and on the opposite bank to Nether Pollock on the White Cart and Crookston Castle on the Levern. Blaeu confusingly places ‘Linthauck’ just inside Lanarkshire, when Eastwood parish is in Renfrewshire. Timothy Pont on his hand drawn map 33 Renfrewshire of c.1583-c1601 appears to name it ‘Linthaudic’.

It does not appear on General Roy’s Military map of the late 1740s, but Roy’s map enhances our view of the site by showing a woodland occupying the area of the confluence between the White Cart Water and the Brock Burn and that no road ran to ‘Lintoch’.

Lint Haugh

However, the site, or a closely related site of a similar name, reappears on Ainslie’s relatively accurate map of 1796 as ‘Lint Haugh’ on the south bank of the White Cart near to where a road crosses the White Cart at the [Rone] ford on its way in towards Nether Pollock or Cardonald House. (On the 1821 edition it appears in contracted form as ‘LintHh’)

On Thomson’s map of 1826, it is recorded as ‘Limehaugh’ with a road leading to the White Cart Water at the Rone Ford. A great image of Linthaugh farm in the 1830s can be found here.

On the first OS map of 1856-58 the road and wood, for the first time named as Crookston Wood, remain, but ‘Lintoch’ has completely vanished. However, the first OS map does show that a second ford, a weir and a new footbridge across the White Cart Water in the vicinity of ‘Lintoch’, a further indication that the area around ‘Lintoch’ was an established crossing point for the White Cart.

From the maps it appears that ‘Lintoch-steps’ may have been close to ‘Lintoch’ and the Crookston Wood in Eastwood parish, Renfrewshire. If it was there, then it was probably a set of stepping stones that crossed the White Cart Water.

The potential discovery of the Lintoch-steps’s location on the Pollok estate in Eastwood parish may enhance our understanding of Renwick’s purpose in preaching there. The location was probably chosen to make a dramatic political point. Since 1683, Sir John Maxwell of Nether Pollok had been one of the most renowned members of the moderate presbyterian faction. In 1684 had been fined the extraordinary sum of £8,000 Sterling (£96,000 Scots or 64,000 merks) for harbouring fugitives among his tenants and refusing to take the Test Oath. (Wodrow, History, III, 466, 481-2, 492.)

At the same time, Maxwell of Nether Pollok had defied the Restoration regime by privately maintaining and settling Matthew Crawford, a moderate presbyterian minister, in Eastwood parish. Crawford had a track record of opposition to the United Societies’s platform and in the month prior to Renwick’s preaching at Lintoch-steps had come out into the open and attended the first public meeting of moderate presbyterian ministers after toleration which had publicly approved a glowing loyal address to James VII thanking him for granting toleration. (Fasti, III, 134; Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, 172.)

For Renwick, the loyal address’s ‘rhapsody of flatteries’ more became ‘court parasites’ than Presbyterians. In preaching at Lintoch-steps, Renwick may have stamping on the toes of the leaders of moderate presbyterian faction and reminding them of the Societies’ outright opposition to toleration and of their desire to contest the moderate leadership’s ‘defection’ in their backyard. However, there is a second site which may be the Lintoch Steps and it is closely associated with a known Renwick preaching site from January, 1686.

2. Lintoch/Linthaugh in Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.

Map of Linthaugh

It has the added advantage, that it was used as a crossing point of the Avon Water in 1686.

‘Gavin Hamiltoune in Lintoch, suorn, depones he knew nothing of the conventicle, except upon Sabaths night after midnight [, i.e., very early on Monday 18 January, 1686] being abed there came some persones to his door and calld upon himto help them throw the watter [of Avon], which he refuissed, and they threa[t]ned him till he wes forced to ryse efter they had almost broken up his door, and then he took a horse and went to the watter syde with them, being tua persones armed, ane with a carrabin and suord and the uther with suord and pistole, on of which he that was armed with the carrabine and suord he judged to be Gavin Hamilton in Croftheids servant, but knous not his name, and when they came to the watter the watter wes so great that it wes not rydable and then he came home againe; depones farder that Margrat Granger, widow in Dalyell Kittimur, came to his house desiring help throw the watter, and that she being sitting speaking with his wyfe, he overhard hir say that there had beine a conventicle in the kirk and that she had beine present, and the deponents wyfe have[ing] asked if they were maney at it, she answered it wes so throng that the kirk walls were lyk to burst and that ther were thriee men of there number appoynted to come to the deponent to gett them help throw the watter; and this is truth as he shall answer to God. Sic Subscribitur, Gavin Hamiltone. Nota:— This Margrat Granger, widow, is apprehendit by Levetennent Murray and sent prisoner to Edinburgh.’ (RPCS, XI, 507-8.)

The crossing point at ‘Lintoch’ on the Avon Water appears to have preceeded the later bridge of Stonehouse that crossed at Linthaugh, which was first recorded on Roy’s map of the 1750s.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or other social networks or retweet it, but do not reblog in full without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

~ by drmarkjardine on September 6, 2010.

One Response to “Where are the Lintoch Steps?”

  1. […] in Renfrewshire. Renwick certainly preached at other sites in the shire such as Craigminnan, Lintoch-steps and possibly at Linthills. However, the Greenock the Privy Council referred to is undoubtedly […]

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